This week marks National Organize Your Files Week! Whether it’s paper files you keep in folders or computer files you work with on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, it’s always possible to get more organized, especially if you’re one of the many small business owners out there pursuing their passions.
1-800Accountant offers the following tips on how to organize your small business files in a home office:
— Properly arrange your file cabinet.
The most effective way to organize your small business files in a file cabinet is to arrange the tabs on your folders so that they go straight back in one line rather than staggering them. This makes it so much easier for you to quickly scan your eyes across one straight line to find the file you need instead of looking over a bunch of labels that are staggered in the file cabinet. Consider using a color-code system as well. In addition, don’t pack a single folder with too many papers. Instead, start a new one for the same category if necessary.
— Scan and organize computer files – and make them accessible on any device.
Identify some of your most important paper documents, particularly the ones you may need access to on the go. Then scan them into your computer as PDF files. Doing so will allow you to not only back up these files, but also will give you access to them on your smartphone or tablet. Cloud backup solutions offer an incredibly convenient way to access your computer files anywhere – even if you aren’t in your home office.
— Name computer files and folders appropriately.
Organization does not just apply to paper documents and files. Keeping your computer organized is just as important. Yes, it’s certainly easier to search for files using a mouse and keyboard than using your fingers to flip through papers in a file cabinet, but you have to maintain proper electronic organization as well. Name your files appropriately so that you know where to find them. Group files into specific folders, and name those folders appropriately. Nothing is worse than having to scroll through a list of hundreds of computer files to find a spreadsheet you need ASAP. Also, always take full advantage of any search tools on your computer to expedite the process.
— Shred paper files you no longer need.
Small business owners often get a ton of paperwork in the mail – or from business partners or clients. These files may include invoices, statements, bills, and receipts. While it’s easy to save everything you receive, and many are afraid to throw anything away in case they may need a certain document in the future, don’t let things pile up too much. Identify any documents you no longer need, and be sure to shred them so that others won’t be able to get personal information from these files if you simply toss them in a trash bag that you leave at the end of your driveway. Plus, by scanning files onto a computer, you can do away with the paper versions of them to reduce clutter.
— Protect and childproof your business files.
Identity theft has become such a major issue in recent years, especially for small business owners. Protect your important files. Use passwords on all of your devices that you use to access files, and use different passwords for all of your online accounts. Consider getting a fireproof safe for your home office. If you have kids, childproof your documents so that the kiddos won’t get their hands on them. You certainly don’t want any papers stolen, but having a kid with sticky fingers mess up your organized files can be even worse.
Get more home office tips and ways to reduce your tax liability as a small business owner by teaming up with the accountants at 1-800Accountant. Call 1-800-222-6868 or visit the “Services” page on www.1-800Accountant.